The Wisdom of the People - the Populist Rationale

The citizens of the United States have excellent judgment. They have shown it consistently over time. When that judgment shifts briefly allowing a failed policy, it is a result of the vilest forms of propaganda by a small clique of liars. (Image: PS-OV-ART)
The people were right about the invasion of Iraq
We know that the plan to invade Iraq began just days after Inauguration Day, 2001. The opportunity to launch the most disastrous and costly military effort in our history came on 9/11. The destruction of the World Trade Center towers and attack on the Pentagon became the pretext for war. The manipulators launched their fraudulent storyline in earnest with confidence that they would get their war.
But in December of 2002, the public wasn't buying it. The people didn't have access to all of the information. They knew one thing for sure -- the invasion was a very bad idea unless Iraq posed an imminent threat to the country with weapons of mass destruction.  An in depth Los Angeles Times public opinion poll asked this question:
The rulers needed to pull out all the stops to get their war. They sent a national icon, General Colin Powell, to lie to the world as he waved a vile of supposed chemical weapons at the United Nations.  Then President Bush lied in his 2003 state of the union address to Congress about Iraq's nuclear potential. This shameless manipulation of our worst fears came as a direct result of the wisdom of the people rejecting a contrived invasion. When the public fails to cooperate, extraordinary measures are implemented.
The people were right about the bailout
Another instance of the people's wisdom came in the days leading up to the first bailout vote following the 2008 Wall Street-big bank collapse. Then Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson put together a generous bailout for the most favored banks and investment houses. The goals were to keep them in business, to preserve their bonuses, and to cover up the various schemes that caused the crisis in the first place. 
The people knew better. The spontaneous outpouring of public demands that Congress reject the bailout came at a rate never seen before. The first bailout was defeated 228 to 205, with only two members failing to show up for the vote. The anti-bailout coalition included arch liberals Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), the very right wing Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and libertarian Ron Paul (R-TX).
The financial elite were shocked by this outcome. They marshaled their forces, calling back both presidential candidates to endorse the bailout. Financial pressure was applied. More ominously, Secretary Paulson claimed that the financial chaos absent a bailout would be the equivalent of a massive heart attack.   The bailouts passed on the next vote propping up the perpetrators of the crash and guaranteeing their fat-cat bonuses.
The pubic was right again.  
Who pays attention to the public? Not our leaders. There was a time when ordinary people rose up and offered a declaration based on the people's wisdom.
A Populist Manifesto
One of the earliest populist declarations applies directly to the challenges we face right now. It represented a bold assertion from those denied the benefits of their labor. These were not experts. They were, by and large, farmers. They were not Ivy League graduates. But their education was sufficient to generate a revolutionary statement addressing the massive inequalities of their time.
The decades following the Civil War were challenging to both urban and rural citizens. By 1892, a Populist Party emerged with a manifesto that is highly relevant to our times. The movement had some successes and then unraveled when some leaders diverted the movement from its core economic principals and openness to divisive politics including racism and religious bigotry. This diversion has been the undoing of populist candidates and movements since that time. 
The original Populist principles, however, are of great interest. Note the remarkable unity shown by the mostly rural based Populist Party members with labor unions and urban workers: "The interests of rural and civil labor are the same; their enemies are identical."
The 1892 Populists argued that a small group of individuals and entities within society controlled the majority of wealth and power. This cabal of the very few manipulated the system to serve their will leaving the people with varying degrees of nothing.   The 1892 platform of the Populist Party crystallized this argument:
"The conditions which surround us best justify our cooperation; we meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress, and touches even the ermine of the bench."
How did this happen. The populists had an answer:
"The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled, public opinion silenced, business prostrated, homes covered with mortgages, labor impoverished, and the land concentrating in the hands of capitalists." 1892 platform
And they knew the ultimate goal behind the hijacking of the government:
"The fruits of the toil of millions are badly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of these, in turn, despise the Republic and endanger liberty." 1892 platform
The populists were compelled to meet and take action because the political parties offered no resource or remedy:
"We have witnessed for more than a quarter of a century the struggles of the two great political parties for power and plunder, while grievous wrongs have been inflicted upon the suffering people. We charge that the controlling influences dominating both these parties have permitted the existing dreadful conditions to develop without serious effort to prevent or restrain them." 1892 platform
The populists aimed to take power and demanded the implementation of fundamental change. Their program included a strong stand in favor of unions: "…the union of the labor forces of the United States this day consummated shall be permanent and perpetual." They asserted that, "Wealth belongs to him who creates it, and every dollar taken from industry [work] without an equivalent is robbery." Profits up the line were exploitation. They demanded nationalization of the railroads, the dominant and oppressive monopoly of the time. The 1892 manifesto called for a progressive income tax, a legally mandated eight hour workday, an end to corporate subsidies, election reform ("a free ballot and a fair count"), and a civil service independent of political meddling and influence.
It is time to look back to the populists of the late 19th century, as well as the industrial labor movements and their initial principles. Our societies look very different on the surface but the underlying challenges presented by great concentrations of wealth are the same. 
Almost all citizens are faced with troubles from big money, rapacious power, and the exploitation visited on us daily.
It is time for the people to apply their considerable wisdom, as evidenced over the past decade, in a systematic fashion that recognizes core interests, principles, and threats. It's always a good thing to be right. It is quite another to be both right and successful in taking power to achieve vital interests and principles. 
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We, The People, need to work a lot harder at being good citizens. We are responsible for the mess we are in because we have focused on material wealth and immediate gratification rather than grasping the fact that we are stewards of our childrens future. We have "chosen poorly," and the bill is due.
Wisdom is our only hope. Wisdom is the freedom and ability to make the kinds of decisions that move our life forward and benefit the planet."
Read Already Wise: Our Inborn Ability to Make the Best CHoices" available as a e-book at

What is a Nation-State?

A nation-state was supposedly an organized group of people, citizens, by birth or naturalized who as a group stood up for their common interests.

That entire concept seems to be lost. I keep wondering about loyalty. It runs very deep in America, people love their while they go off to war, almost blinded and stick by the U.S.....powers that be sell her off to the highest bidder.

WTO trade system vs. nation-states

"A nation-state was supposedly an organized group of people, citizens, by birth or naturalized who as a group stood up for their common interests." -- Robert Oak

Anybody remember the high-toned arguments in favor of ending "trade barriers" back in the 1990s? The highbrow argument was that nation-states would dissolve and, since wars had always been between nation-states, the WTO system would spell the end of warfare around the world. The corresponding lowbrow (actually hitting below the belt) argument was and is that if you oppose fast-track "free" trade, that proves you are a racist, or, it proves that you are an economic coward, afraid of competing to make a living.

Another claim for the emerging WTO world-system was that democracy would break out all over, following the growth everywhere of middle classes. This in turn would mean greater civil liberties for everyone in all nations.

Soon, everything was to be so wonderful  that national borders would become superfluous like borders between two jurisdictions as you drive along a main thoroughfare  through any major metropolitan area in the world

"Oh, look at that sign, we just entered People's Republic of Korea, I never would have noticed. Looks exactly like Los Angeles, doesn't it? There's Homey's Burgers! Oh, and look! There's an ATM on the corner! We can get rid of all our old dollars there!"

The WTO world system was sold to us by the same professionals using the same marketing tools as are used to sell cars or computers. It was a carefully planned campaign, fueled by profits already gained (since the 1950s) through labor arbitrage and emergent global finance-capitalism, based on fractional-reserve central banking.

The campaign was global. In the U.S.A., it was a matter of buying the Supreme Court, the Congress and the White House ... and selling the people. It wasn't necessary to convince a majority of the people, because it was easier to assure that no poll results would be published widely showing that the people were opposed to the removal of trade barriers. All that was necessary was enough support from academia and from the mass media, that the illusion of public support was great enough that buying of the institutions of democratic government went mostly unnoticed.

There are as many problems today as there were and are holes in the arguments of pro-WTO propagandists.

Among the problems is one huge issue, namely, that the institutions of democracy -- including civil liberty, regulated markets and representative government -- are struggling to survive in all democratic (small 'd') constitutional nation-states.

Nation-states are the traditional containers of common interests.

Traditional nation-states are like bottles -- transparent, fragile.

Here's the bottomline: Nation-states are the repositories of democracy, because they are the traditional repositories of common interests. Of course, nation-states can hold military dictatorships or kingdoms or Islamic Republics or People's Republics. Nation-states are like the bottles and you can put anything in them.

In the old nation-state system where the only containers were bottles, if you wanted a nation-state where a people stand up for their common interests, you need to protect all the bottles. That's what the U.N. is supposed to do: protect all the bottles.

Bottle-breaking ideology: cans are better, less fragile

Suppose now there is an ideology to go around and break all the bottles, because bottles are selfish, bottles cause wide-spread thirst, and, anyway, it's better to mix all the contents together ("multiculturalism") and let private entities like banks gather the spilled stuff up and put it into cans where it can be kept safely and sold in a free (unregulated) market to everyone.

Mopping up all the spilled stuff will create middle classes everywhere, and, with multiculturalism. these middle classes will soon all earn the same low wages, which will assure the creation of a global middle class. Just as the rise of a middle class in Europe had led to democratic institutions and civil liberties, the global middle class will do the same for the entire world! 

(Does this remind you of Marxism? Or Nazism? Or any other ideology that claims to be the ultimate reform movement for the entire world through a political agenda?)

This outcome -- breaking all the bottles, mopping up the spilled mix and canning it all to keep it safe and out-of-sight -- is much better than keeping stuff in these old fashioned bottles that are so transparent and also so fragile


1892 here I come!

Yes! I'll settle for the 1892 platform of the Populist Party!

You betcha!

What happens to our third party movements is that they get sidetracked into cultural issues. Buchanan destroyed the Reform Party in the name of his cultural war. Perot side-stepped all cultural issues. The way to resolve cultural issues is by direct voice of the people ("Initiative and Referendum").

The Populist Party I guess was overtaken by the Progressive Party ("Bull Moose"), which fell into the Third Party spoiler trap by running Teddy Roosevelt (a refugee by now from the GOP), which gave the 1912 election to the progressive-leaning Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Then everything became muddled with World War I. The Sixteenth Amendment (FIT) was finally ratified in February 1913. Shortly thereafter, the Seventeenth Amendment made senatorial elections direct by popular vote. Anti-trust had been in effect for some time, since Teddy Roosevelt's presidency.

By 1920, it was back to business as usual, Democrats versus Republicans, as Prohibition came in and distracted everyone -- winning their peurile victory not by popular vote, not by referendum, but by stampeding of public opinion and aggressive manipulation of the two-party system by a single-interest group.

Huzzah, cultural war! "In the mean time, in between time, ain't we got fun!"

Moralizing = hypocrisy rules!

And that's my main example here: Prohibition. No candidate running for office should ever have been asked for an opinion on prohibition! Prohibition was the first great irrelevant wedge issue, where people confused morality with politics.

(History informs us that legislators who voted for prohibition immediately adjourned to a speak-easy or even into the Senate cloakroom for a a bourbon!)

The great success story was the Republican Party, which was anything but the Abolitionist Party, although it was formed to represent free labor as the basis of the nation ("Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men"). However, it is noteworthy that the Republican Party received a tremendous boost from the Supreme Court shortly after the election of 1856, (which Republican John Fremont lost to Democrat James Buchanan), thanks to the Court's radically pro-slavery and mostly unpopular Dred Scott decision.

My point here -- an important point -- 44 Republicans were elected to the House in 1854 and, four years later, the Republicans won a majority in the House in 1858. That was before the nomination and election of Lincoln in 1860.

We pay way too much attention to the presidential circus -- it's part of our silly celebrity culture.

We need much more focus on independents and 'minor' party candidates (winners!) in congressional elections!

That's the key. Also, constitutional amendments! Political structural reform. If you have any black-powder guns, you know how a ramrod works. Try that on the Supreme Court with a Judiciary Reform Amendment. Let them judicial activism their way out of that!

But FIRST ... stop watching that major network news! Bad habit! (If there happens to be anything worth watching, Robert Oak will give the heads-up in his weekend round-ups!)

What does this have to do with economics? It's history, relevant to the Federal Reserve Act and the Sixteenth Amendment (FIC). But I admit to my bias -- I would love to see a new Reform Party rise up in this country before I die, fully acknowledging that it may ultimately wipe out one of the two existing parties. (I don't much care which one!)